Thursday, April 23, 2009

Easy as Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I love pie; & loving pie as I do it’s hard to pick a favorite variety—how can someone say, for instance, that a good pumpkin pie is more or less perfect than a good blackberry pie? As the saying goes, it’s all good. However, if I had to pick one favorite pie in some hypothetical Judgment of Paris type contest, I might have to settle on strawberry rhubarb.

I also have to point out from the get go that Eberle is a grand pie-maker. It’s true that pies used to make her nervous—so she said—tho she always made great pies. Eberle claims that the epiphany for her as a pie-maker was Dani Leone’s two pieces of advice, imparted to her back in the previous millennium: don’t handle the dough too much, & don’t worry about what it looks like. Sage advice this, & Dani is one who knows, as she’s also a very capable baker
I still recall the blackberry pie she baked for a poker game birthday party on my 40th back in Baghdad by the Bay.

So when Eberle announced yesterday that she wanted to make a strawberry rhubarb pie, I was quite happy; & she even agreed to have the process documented for Robert Frost’s Banjo.

Of course, one secret weapon in the recipe is the fresh rhubarb (see pic at top of post). Eberle’s rhubarb plant is, she says, the most worry-free of all her many horticultural friends—it’s hardy in the cold, & not even the voracious deer, who always visit in July & August, touch it—the leaves of rhubarb are poisonous, actually, & as I’m sure you all know it’s the stalks that are used in the pie.

The crust:

1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
1 TBSP sugar
¼ tsp salt
6 TBSP unsalted butter, cold & cut in pieces
1 egg yolk

2 TBSP of ice water

Combine the flour, sugar & salt in a bowl. Then cut the butter into bits & add these butter bits to the flour mix. Work the butter into the mix using a pastry cutter, two knives or your fingers until the mix has the consistency of coarse crumbs. Then add the egg yolk & ice water, & work the dough with your hands until it forms a ball. Cover the ball with plastic wrap & refrigerate it for one hour.

When you roll the dough out, make sure not to work it too much; working the dough too much will make the crust less tender. & of course all you bakers know this, but make sure there are no cracks or holes in the crust when it’s in the pie pan.

The filling:

approx. 2 cups each of strawberries (large strawberries should be cut in half) & rhubarb. The rhubarb is cut in 1-inch slices.
3 TBSP of minute tapioca
1-¼ cup sugar

Warm this mixture
in a pot on low heat until the tapioca dissolves. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Once the tapioca is dissolved, just fill up the pastry shell & place your pie in the oven. It should bake at 375 for 10 minutes, then at 350 for about 40 minutes. The pie is done when the crust is golden & the filling is bubbling.

Poetry on a plate. & be sure to check out the slideshow presentation of this recipe, with background music by Eberle & I. The song is “Gray Dog’s Holiday,” which we composed a few years back, & has had a few musical incarnations. I always play bariton
e uke on the song, but Eberle has played flute, concert bells (glockenspiel) & in this case, marimba. Enjoy!

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  1. Oooh! Save me a slice! I love pie of every variety as my Mom always had one made growing up. Perhaps 3-4 she made per week, her fave was lemon. My rhubarb won't be ready until next week, it's still itty bitty. Enjoy! Will you make it ala mode?

  2. Hi Chris:

    No ice cream in the house, so we're eating it straight up-- it is good!

  3. I just copied your recipe-I'm gonna try your crust next week when I'm back!

  4. Oh, John,look what you've done. I took one look at Eberle's pie and remembered that I have rhubarb in my freezer, that I picked last summer. I'll be making a pie on Sunday. Oh, yum.

  5. Strawberry rhubarb is the best! (I like to add some grated orange rind -- it adds just a bit of zip. [And gilds the lily!])(Whoa. That's a lot of punctuation.)

  6. Hi Chris & Sandra & T:

    Chris: Hope you enjoy it!

    Sandra: Ditto on that!

    T: The orange zest sounds like a nice twist; we'll have to try that.


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